King Midas was a kind king, but he had some shortcomings. One of his shortcomings was that sometimes he made foolish and impulsive decisions. Another fault he had was that he was obsessed with gold. He had plenty of gold, and didn’t lack anything he could want, but all he could think about was getting more and more gold. He loved his kingdom because of the gold in the hills, he loved the morning because of the golden sunlight, he loved his flower gardens full of golden flowers, his gold crown, and the golden-colored hair of his beautiful daughter, Iris. Each night when he kissed his daughter’s golden hair, he told her he hoped to get all the gold in the world for her. Iris, who was named after the rainbow, was not obsessed with gold. In fact, she was tired of gold, and wanted to see all the other colors of the rainbow.
One day, the kind King Midas found a creature called a satyr asleep in his favorite garden of golden flowers, and showed mercy on the satyr by letting it go. This creature followed the god Dionysus, who decided to visit King Midas to reward him for his mercifulness.
One day, as King Midas was locked inside his vault counting his golden coins and listening to his favorite music, the sound of gold coins clinking together, he saw a shadow fall across the single sunbeam in the vault. King Midas turned and was startled to see a stranger smiling at him from atop a pile of gold bars. Suddenly, Midas realized that this was Dionysus, the god of happiness. Dionysus spoke to him, “Good King Midas, I came here to see if I could reward you with some more happiness, but I see that you lack nothing. You cannot possibly need anything else to make you happy.”
Midas sadly shook his head. “I have done very well, but I need far more to be happy. I do not have nearly enough gold. I wish that everything I touched would turn to gold.”
Dionysus smiled so big that the room filled with bright light. “What an extraordinary idea! Are you sure that will bring you happiness, and that you won’t regret this one day?”
Without waiting to think, Midas impulsively cried out, “Of course I won’t regret this!”
Dionysus reluctantly granted the wish, saying, “Very well, at sunrise tomorrow the golden touch will be yours.” And just as silently as he had entered, the stranger disappeared.
That night King Midas had difficulty sleeping. The anticipation of the golden touch that would be his tomorrow kept him tossing and turning all night. When he finally fell asleep, he slept until late the next morning. When King Midas opened his eyes and saw the sun shining through the window, he reached down to pull the covers away. The threads in the blanket instantly turned to gold, yet stayed the blanket stayed as soft as it had ever been. Joyfully, King Midas raced around the room touching everything he saw. The dresser and the bed turned to gold, and even a handkerchief Iris had embroidered for him turned to gold. He regretted for a moment that the handkerchief had changed from the way it was when Iris gave it to him, but he set it down and raced downstairs.
When he saw his daughter outside, he decided he would surprise her. He carefully sat down to eat breakfast without touching anything. Then he picked up his coffee to take a drink, but the cup and the liquid turned to gold, so he couldn’t drink it. He quickly and cautiously picked up an orange slice, but before he could put it in his mouth, it was gold. Next, he tried to eat a piece of toast, but it turned to a hot metal and burned his lips. He jumped up from his chair, beginning to regret the golden touch.
At that moment, the king’s beloved daughter, Iris, walked in. Iris saw her father jumping wildly around in a strange golden robe, with golden tears starting to fall down his cheeks. Impulsively, she ran over to her father and threw her arms around him. “My daughter!” cried out King Midas. But she could not answer him. It took the king a long time to pry himself out of her golden embrace.
When he was finally free, the kind ran down to his vault and cried. Suddenly, Dionysus appeared, smiling brightly. “Well, friend Midas. How do you like the golden touch?”
King Midas replied, “I would rather be the poorest man in the world than lose my daughter! Please take back the golden touch. I regret it so much!”
Dionysus replied, “Now you are truly a wise king. Go dip yourself in the river to change yourself back to normal, then dip a bucket in the river and sprinkle the water over anything you want to remove the golden touch from.”
So King Midas followed the instructions, and after dipping himself in the river, he poured a bucket of water on his daughter. Iris woke up, startled, and said, “Oh, my dress is all wet!”
The king just embraced her and said, “Iris, you are worth more than all of the gold in the world.”